Tarnished Assyrians | Letters | Chicago Reader

Tarnished Assyrians 

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Dear editor:

In reference to "Fanning the Flames" (October 18) by Grant Pick, I wish to make it clear that the quote attributed to me is inaccurate. It reads: "If you're an Assyrian, you can suddenly be taken from your house, arrested, and tortured for no reason." This is not what I said. I tried to make clear to Mr. Pick that the situation faced by Assyrians in Iraq is complex to say the least. I stated that it was essentially a political one, not racial. Brutal as the Iraqi regime has been in the treatment of its minorities, it does not arrest and torture Assyrians simply "for no reason."

I understand that you need to get the story out and make it interesting, but you do your readers a disservice, when in a purportedly in-depth expose, you take such liberty with truth and accuracy.

Lastly, your portrayal of Assyrians in the article is unfair, inaccurate, and based on narrow investigative work. I realize the article's stated purpose is not about the Assyrians, but it tarnishes them just the same. The cover, in particular, with mug shots of Assyrian youth, plays to the hatreds of Assyrians and other Middle Eastern people. If the point was not to "fan the flames," the cover is surely not appropriate, perhaps even racist.

Robert DeKelaita

Chicago

Grant Pick replies:

A check of my notes indicates I did quote Mr. DeKelaita correctly, but the clarification is helpful. Contrary to Mr. DeKelaita's assertion, my story focused on two criminals who happened to be Assyrian and was not meant to disparage the whole class of people.

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